Saturday, June 5, 2010

Publishing the Qur'an: From the perspective of modern publishing practice (Part 3)


Financial investment & risk taking in publishing the Qur'an

In current publishing practice, a publisher is required to possess a considerable amount of financial capital to afford advances for authors and costs incurred in content acquisition, development and production. Upon deciding to publish a book, a publisher exposes itself to risks. Books may not sell as well as expected and only a minute percentage of publications make it to the bestseller's list. On the other hand, state-owned publishers or those who publish as a cultural practice more than for economic reasons, voluntarily absorb any investment costs and risks involved. This holds true for the Qur'an publication at all three phases of Qur'an publishing that we have discussed.

Prophet Muhammad s.a.w was inspired to record the verses in writing. Saidina Abu Bakar as-Siddiq decided to collect the parchments to protect the Qur'an from possible extinction, due to deaths of many huffaz. Sayyidina Uthman had worked on the publication of Mushaf Uthmani to prevent division among the believers on account of variant readings. Whatever resources they needed to utilize had no monetary values attached to them. However, it is worth noting that during Sayyidina Uthman's reign, the government enjoyed a boon from military conquests hence allowing the usage of quality parchments for Mushaf Uthmani. Because of the stability and affluence enjoyed by Sayyidna Uthman's government, he could even invest on 'marketing' Mushaf Uthmani.

When  Sayyidina Uthman issued the order to destroy all other Qur'an copies as a means of assigning power to the unified version of the Mushaf Uthmani, he risked a public letdown. Some parties might have disapproved the destruction of the Suhuf kept by Hafsah because it was the only surviving original inheritance. In spite of this, Sayyidina Uthman realized that it was the only way to preserve the quality of the Qur'an publication and to keep the book differentiated from all others.

This is a call that a contemporary publisher would consider making too, which is to manage a book's anticipated competition by making it more distinguishable in the market. This is also the reason why in a contract between an author and a publisher, the former is prohibited from working on on a similar kind of publication with another party for fear of jeopardizing the book's future. Investment and risk considerations made in the production of the Qur'an were indeed calculated and fair. This was one of the factors that contributed to its successful publication.

Wallahu a'lam
To be continued

No comments:

Post a Comment